In This Article
In This Article
Yes. Early research suggests that Ozempic® is effective for weight loss. Semaglutide—its active compound—has been shown to reduce excess weight.
In a clinical trial, more than 4,500 adults who were obese or overweight received 2.4 mg of subcutaneous semaglutide once a week. Based on their findings:1
Ozempic® is an FDA-approved antidiabetic drug for type 2 diabetes. However, clinical studies show its potential use as a weight loss drug.
Ozempic® is a subcutaneous semaglutide that’s FDA-approved for treating type 2 diabetes.
The drug is usually prescribed when first-line diabetes medications have failed to improve blood sugar levels or have stopped working after some time.
“This classification of drugs increases insulin secretion, causing glucose from the blood to enter into cells,” says our in-house medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira.
Ozempic® may also be used to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes who have heart disease. This includes heart attacks, stroke, and possible death.
Ozempic® is an incretin mimetic and a GLP-1 agonist that lowers blood sugar levels and reduces weight by mimicking the hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1.
Keep in mind that Ozempic® must be used with diet and exercise. You’ll need to make lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and increased physical activity.
Ozempic® can control blood sugar in three ways:
These combined effects give Ozempic® the ability to lower blood sugar and prevent sudden increases in blood glucose levels, also known as sugar spikes.
Ozempic® contains semaglutide, the same active ingredient as Wegovy®, an FDA-approved weight loss medication.
Because of this, Ozempic® has similar effects:
Ozempic® helps you lose weight by keeping you full for longer periods and reducing your food and calorie intake.
Ozempic® can be used for weight loss and is generally safe to use. But it can still cause side effects and is associated with some serious risks.
Yes. You can use Ozempic® as a weight loss medication. However, it isn’t advised. You’ll also need a prescription from your doctor.
“Many doctors will also encourage diet and exercise along with Ozempic to optimize weight loss—if they prescribe it to you. In patients who are obese and who have cardiovascular risks including high cholesterol, Ozempic is a good treatment modality,” says Dr. Mira.
While early studies show that it can help you lose weight, it isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight management.
Ozempic® is still being reviewed by the FDA as a possible weight loss treatment for obese and overweight adults.
Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that developed semaglutide, is still seeking FDA approval for the use of Ozempic® as a weight loss drug.
Ozempic® is generally safe when used as indicated. But there still isn’t enough proof to show that it’s safe for people with a history of pancreatitis or children under 18 years.
It’s best that you talk to a doctor regarding its safety. Your doctor can determine whether or not it’s safe for you based on your medical history and health.
Ozempic® is associated with side effects ranging from mild to serious.
The most common side effects associated with Ozempic® are mild to moderate gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. They usually do not last long and include:
Ozempic® may cause serious side effects in some people.
These include visual changes, severe allergies, gallbladder and kidney problems, inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), and low blood sugar.3
If you experience the following signs and symptoms, you may be suffering from these conditions and need to report them to your doctor:
“Ozempic is started at the lowest minimum dose and slowly increased to decrease the chance of very serious side-effects,” says Dr. Mira.
Ozempic® isn’t for everyone. While it is generally safe for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and weight problems in adults, there are a few things to consider.
Tell your doctor if you have medical conditions or if you’re taking other medications before starting treatment with Ozempic®.
It can’t be used to treat type 1 diabetes or replace insulin in people who need insulin. You also can’t use it if:
Before you take Ozempic®, you need to tell your doctor if you have any medical conditions. This includes problems with your pancreas or kidneys or if you have a history of diabetic retinopathy.
It isn’t known if Ozempic® is harmful to an unborn baby, or if it passes into breast milk (subsequently, it isn’t known if breast milk that may have traces of Ozempic® causes harm to breastfeeding children).
So you need to tell your doctor if:
Your healthcare provider may recommend a different treatment for blood sugar control if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
You should stop treatment two months before trying for pregnancy.
You need to inform your doctor about other medications you’re taking.
This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications, health supplements, and other drugs used to treat diabetes—like insulin and sulfonylureas.
Taking Ozempic® with other antidiabetic medications and/or insulin may result in hypoglycemia or blood glucose levels that are below normal.
“Hypoglycemia is a life-threatening condition which can lead to coma or even death. This happens as the cells lack glucose to normally function,” explains Dr. Mira.
You can buy Ozempic® in many U.S. pharmacies as long you have a prescription. Ask your doctor if they can prescribe it to you for weight loss.
Ozempic® is a prescription medication. So it needs to be prescribed by your doctor before you can get it at a local pharmacy near you.
Some of the major U.S. pharmacies that dispense Ozempic® are:
Healthcare professionals may prescribe Ozempic® if you are an adult who meets at least one of the following criteria:
Some doctors may provide off-label Ozempic® prescriptions to obese people and people who are overweight, or have at least one weight-related condition.
Since Ozempic® has yet to receive FDA approval as a weight loss medication, many doctors are hesitant to prescribe it.
Novo Nordisk also does not promote, suggest, or encourage using its medications off-label—that is, using them outside of their intended purpose.
That said, doctors can prescribe an approved drug like Ozempic® for unapproved use, such as weight loss. This is known as an off-label prescription.4
Off-label prescribing is a legal and common practice in the United States. It is estimated that one in every five prescriptions is for off-label use.4
If you want to use semaglutide (Ozempic®) for weight loss, you need to find a doctor who is willing to prescribe it for this purpose.